UDAN To Take-Off Next Month; 43 New Airports & 190 New Routes Finalized
Govt. of India’s ambitious aviation scheme: UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) will finally take-off starting next month. As per reports emerging, Govt. of India has received bids for 190 routes across India, covering smaller towns and cities.
Minister of State for Aviation, Jayant Sinha has informed the public that 43 new airports have been finalized, which would be developed on a public-private partnership.
Under UDAN scheme, Govt. aims to enable the common man to fly, at highly subsidized rates. Every flight fare would be capped at Rs 2500/hour, and Tier 2 and 3 cities would be connected with the state capital under this program. (for example, Sholapur with Mumbai; Shimoga with Bengaluru and so on)
UDAN is Govt of India’s 1st program under regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
As per Minister Sinha, 43 new airports which have been finalized, and would be placed on the aviation map of India are those, which were previously un-served, and lying vacant. As per various estimates, there are 16 airports in India where less than 1 flight per day takes-off and 400 airports, where not even one flight has been arranged in the last two years.
Via UDAN, such airports would be utilized to connect Tier 2 and 3 cities with state capitals.
Minister said, “We have got bids from 11 bidders, including schedule airlines, for 190 routes connecting 43 un-served airports like Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jamshedpur Jalgaon and Akola and for 12 underserved (which get less than seven flights a week like Gwalior).This is the first round of bidding and affordable aerial regional connectivity will grow as more routes are bid out in coming days..”
As per another set of reports, the first flight under UDAN would be between Pantnagar and Dehradun in Uttaranchal, while simultaneously, flight between flight between Jamshedpur and Kolkata would be also initiated.
Issue Of Financial Feasibility
Capping of Rs 2500 per hour flight fare is a bit less, if we consider the traffic and the demand. Govt. has planned to arrange funds for this subsidy by a special ‘Regional Connectivity Fund’, which would be filled by charging a special surcharge on existing flights between Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
Now, The Federation of Indian Airlines, an association of major airlines carrier, has vehemently objected to this special levy of additional charge. IndiGo, GoAir, SpiceJet and Jet Airways, which collectively account for 80% of the Indian aviation market, has objected to this special surcharge, which comes out to be Rs 8500 per fight between India’s major cities.
The Federation has already filed a complaint in Delhi High Court, and the matter is right now sub-judice.
Interestingly, Air India and Air Asia has already started charging this surcharge from their passengers. One official said, “They have started levying the surcharge on their air tickets. Other airlines are yet to do, as the case is sub judice (in court),”
Justifying this additional surcharge, Minister Sinha has described UDAN as a game changer. He said, “The government is firmly behind this scheme, which is market-driven and will promote air travel..”
He further said, “We are in talks with airlines on this issue.There are several ways to raise RCF and this was the most preferred one. However, operators need not worry as the government is backing this scheme and will pay them the required VGF.”
We will keep you updated as more details come in regarding UDAN.